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ALTOONA, Pa. -- In a concerted and continued effort to streamline its inventory processing, Sheetz recently selected a new warehouse management system (WMS) from HighJump Software, a global provider of supply chain management software. The initiative, currently in its beta phase, was put in motion to lower IT costs and reduce business risk, Darrin Pohar, director of operations at Sheetz told CSNews Online.
"This particular purchase was for our warehouse management system that supports all aspects of inventory processing and accuracy within the four walls of our distribution center and our commissary," said Pohar. "The system is not used to calculate replenishment orders for our stores. We have built our own replenishment software for that internally."
With over 370 locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina, ensuring a smooth rollout requires extensive testing and troubleshooting. "We have completed the define phase, the configure phase and will be starting the validation phase soon," Pohar explained. "The commissary implementation phase is scheduled for May and the distribution implementation phase is scheduled for October."
Working out the logistics and fine tuning the software is critical as the WMS supports the receiving, storage, order selection, loading, shipping and inventory management for the Distribution Center (DC) and the Sheetz Brothers Kitchen (SBK). The former distributes products such as cigarettes, tobacco, foodservice, candy, snacks, drinks, automotive, health and beauty, and supplies, while SBK distributes sandwiches, wraps, yogurt parfaits, breakfast sandwiches, donuts and retail breads.
"SBK produces sub rolls, burger buns, cookies, muffins, pepperoni rolls and dressing bottles that are then distributed by the DC," Pohar explained. "DC delivers to every store three times a week. SBK delivers to every store seven times a week." Risk avoidance was among reasons the software was selected. "We felt the risk of an old and unsupported warehouse management system was an unnecessary risk for our company," he noted. "Our supply chain requires us to be in operation seven days a week. We can only deal with delays of about six hours without significantly impacting our stores."
While the software has not been officially rolled out, Pohar explained past experiences with other implementations has better prepared the company for this undertaking. "We changed our selection process significantly by hiring a consultant, having a cross-functional team and allowing the appropriate amount of time to research all of our alternatives."
Determining Sheetz’s return-on-investment (ROI) is equally difficult, he noted, adding there was no alternative but to upgrade and move forward. "We did not do a typically ROI on this purchase because we felt we could not stay with the unsupported WMS we had," said Pohar. "We will only get a payback if we avoided a business interruption due to a failure of the current system. We will never know if that would have happened."
With a two-tier rollout occurring over the next six months, Sheetz and HighJump are enjoying a collaborative relationship with a shared goal and vision devoid of stress. "This relationship is six months old. I would say the relationship is excellent because neither one of us has failed to meet our agreed-upon commitments," said Pohar. "They are not the type of company that likes to schedule dinners or golf outings to build relationships. Instead they stay focused on the commitments, and that is the way we like it."